Laura Zucca

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


The purpose of this study was to investigate international graduate students' perspectives regarding their experiences at the University of North Dakota. Seven students were selected with a convenience sample. Students' interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a qualitative phenomenological approach. Acculturation served as a conceptual framework to contextualize the study and provide a scholarly foundation. The following five themes emerged from the data analysis: (1) International graduate students have complex professional and personal motivations for moving to the United States. (2) International graduate students encounter several difficulties, which are often related to linguistic, academic, and cultural differences. (3) International graduate students appear to adapt and succeed in their academic endeavors; students report high grades and collaboration in scholarly projects as evidence of their successes. (4) International graduate students often feel isolated and express some tensions toward their academic and cultural environment. (5) International graduate students display pragmatic attitudes toward their experiences and are determined to "make things work."

International graduate students in this study had different motivations for moving to the United States; they appeared to balance many elements in a complex equilibrium of achievements and challenges. Although they often experienced success, students likewise struggled with feelings of isolation, and they coped with difficulties by maintaining a pragmatic attitude.

This study highlighted that international graduate students provide an opportunity for the foundation of an authentic, multicultural academic arena in which all scholars can thrive. Recommendations for action and further research include creating intercultural mentoring programs and furthering studies on acculturation of international graduate students in relation to English language competency and academic performance.

Included in

Psychology Commons